Visitors to Westerville's Community Center will see changes to their passes in March.

Starting March 1, the new community center pass will allow visitors to have access to the entire facility, instead of just certain areas as was common in the past, said Randy Auler, director of parks and recreation.

Access to the gymnasium, track, fitness area, indoor pool and climbing wall will be available without contracts or initiation fees. However, it will not cover specific classes or programs.

Rates also will increase, in addition to the change in pass fees.

Auler said current pass holders will see no cost changes when the new passes launch in March and can transition to the new pass when their current one expires.

Visitors will be able to choose between daily or monthly passes under the new policy. Daily passes will cost $5 for youth residents ages 3-15, $9 for youth who are nonresidents, $7 per day for adults who are residents and $12 per day for nonresidents, $6 per day for seniors who are residents ages 65 and older and $11 for nonresident seniors.

Monthly pass rates will be $20 for youth residents ages 3-15, $35 for youth nonresidents, $26 for adults who are residents and $45 for nonresident adults. Seniors who are residents will pay $24 a month for a pay and nonresidents will be charged $42 per month.

Children ages 2 and younger are admitted free.

Monthly passes will also be available for households of three or more people, at $70 for residents and $120 for nonresidents.

Although the pass is priced monthly, residents will have an option to purchase and pay in advance for 12 months. They also can cancel at any time, receiving a refund for months unused.

Currently the center offers a variety of "passport" options for the fitness area, the pool, the track and gymnasium, as well as an ultimate benefits option. Yearly, costs for residents under that option for example are $230 for adult residents ages 18-59, $185 for residents ages 6-17 and $185 for senior residents, according to the center's website information. For residents paying for a year under the new system, it would be $240 for youth ages 3-15, $312 for adults and $288 for seniors.

Auler said the rate increase needed to happen because rates had not changed since 2007.

"We did that to make sure rates stayed low," he said, especially since the country was in the middle of a recession about that time.

He said the current rates were calculated using the change in cost of living from 2001 onward.

Auler said the recreation department should have gradually increased rates over time to avoid the cost spike.

"Unfortunately we didn't do that," he said.

He said the policy changes will help the center with staffing once they don't have to heavily monitor visitors given that everyone can have access to all areas.

Christa Dickey, spokeswoman for the city of Westerville, said the change in access and increase in pass costs has nothing to do with the community center expansion, as that is being funded through a separate income tax.

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